Each year the whole Akvo team gathers together to meet. It’s a really important thing to do – probably our most important week of the year. We’re scattered across the world and while that works well in many ways, the time we spend together is vital to share experience, learn and develop a connection with colleagues, and evolve a shared sense of identity and direction.
Team Week 2014 kicks off on Monday, in the Netherlands. We’ll be spending the first three days at the Dutch coast in a place called Noordwijk. The organisation has been growing, as our partners are seeking our support at an ever greater scale. So there will be around 55 people attending.
This year we’ve tried to make the event really inclusive – for a start the Dutch team will be staying on site too, rather than going home each night. This puts everyone on the same footing – and was possible because we moved the event to a lower cost venue, avoiding so much expensive Amsterdam accommodation. We’ve also worked to avoid a “top down” agenda, where everyone gathers to listen to directors telling everyone how it is. Instead almost all of the agenda is comprised of two kinds of sessions, powered by pretty much everyone…
There are 22 “lightning” talks happening – or (en)lightning talks as we’ve decided to brand them. Each lasts just 10 minutes, and no two talks are done by the same person. They cover topics ranging from “West Africa” to “Global finance and admin”. This was figured to be the only way to cover off the diverse range of topics that people need to get up to speed on, or to the same level on.
There are also 14 workshop sessions happening, in four batches. These workshop topics were submitted by people around the team and then everyone voted which ones would happen. People get to choose which four to attend. I feel spoilt for choice.
There’s a great history of Akvo team get-togethers, and I have no doubt that this will take things once again to a whole new level.